Commander Who?

In some video games, the player’s avatar can be male or female.  When this is just a color map applied to a common shape (like some of the pixel-art or block-based games), that’s not a big computational load or development effort for the programs team of artist(s).  More advanced games may differentiate characters by build, features, clothing styles, and other attributes, but most of these still end up being based on the same frame (or virtual “skeleton”), so that movement algorithms still end up being similar for any combination of selected cosmetic choices.

However, for story-driven games with a lot of dialogue, there’s a challenge when gender-specific pronouns are used by voiced characters to refer to the player.  Either the voice actors have to record two versions of all affected lines, or the script-writers have to carefully avoid certain sentence forms and phrases.

When my wife started playing through one of the Mass Effect games as a female character, after I had been playing as the male avatar for while, it started to become more obvious how the game handled this situation.  Almost all characters in the game just referred to the player as “Commander Shepard”.  No “John” or “Jane”, just “Commander”.  (For what it’s worth, I noticed that the narrator in Fortnite’s “Save the World” campaign refers to the player as “Commander”, as well.)

If a computer game doesn’t know much about a given individual, this “workaround” is sufficient.  However, there are times when we know someone’s name, and we show them courtesy by using that name, along with references to other things – including their gender – that we have learned about them.

For instance, when working with colleagues over e-mail (whose gender I can’t tell from their name, because of differences in language, background, or country), avoiding personal pronouns in communication becomes an important skill in real life, as well as in the virtual world.  Later, though, after I have met an individual and gotten to learn more about their identity and background, I can not only use accurate pronouns in business communication with them (or about them), but also mix in references to other things that that have shared with me, whether about their interests or their family.

For the follower of Jesus, it is clear that He is not only Lord and Savior, but He is also a Commander.  In military terms, Jesus made it clear that He could command a host of heavenly forces, if He chose to:

Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

Based on the footnote in the NASB, a “legion” was six thousand troops.  Jesus wasn’t just the leader of a raggedy band of apostles (who fled at His arrest, and were later hiding behind locked doors, before Jesus resurrection and power helped them change the world).  He wasn’t only a teacher with thousands following Him.  Instead, He had access to thousands of powerful angelic soldiers, who could have easily laid waste to those who opposed Him, if He had chosen to have them do so.

While Jesus was humble and yielding to the Father’s will (for the good of humankind) during His first-century time on earth, the book of Revelation uses fairly dramatic imagery to confirm that Jesus’ return will be as the Conqueror of sin, death, and evil – even as He is also the Lamb whose life paid for our salvation (if we will choose to accept it).

So, as we proclaim Jesus as our Lord, let us also remember that He is our Commander.  He gives us directions that we are to follow without question.  He leads us into battle against evil forces, instead of sending us out where He wasn’t willing to go Himself.  He has already won the battle over death, and offers open recruitment for everyone to join Him – to sign up for the side that will be victorious.

Unlike video games, though, it is OK – and probably a good idea, in fact – to speak Jesus’ name to others.  He is not a faceless, abstract leader whose identity is unknown.  Instead, He is a personal Savior, fully human and fully God.  He lived in a way that not only showed us how we should live, but also what God was like.

We not only have a perfect Commander; we have Jesus Christ, whose name we can proudly share with the world.  There is no secret who is in charge of our life.  As we learn to follow Jesus better and better, our allegiances become more and more obvious.

May each of us fall in line with our Commander’s guidance, both for our own success in the Kingdom of God, and to aid in His larger strategy.

Thank you, Commander Jesus!


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

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